Imposing austerity on Ukraine might not be so easy

The International Union of Food Workers reports today that workers at the Belkozin plant in Priluki, in northern Ukraine, have won a 54% wage increase, after a strike in May and a protracted negotiation. There’s a full report here: http://cms.iuf.org/?q=node%2F550

This is interesting, because right now the Ukrainian government and IMF are tiptoe-ing around the issue of how to implement an austerity package linked to the IMF’s gigantic programme of loans, put in place after the 2008 financial crisis – which hit Ukraine harder than almost any other European or former Soviet country.

I highlighted the rumblings in the official union federation, in response to the austerity programme, in a recent article in Emerging Markets newspaper:

http://www.emergingmarkets.org/Article/2684779/Search/Results/Union-threat-to-disrupt-Ukraine-IMF-deal.html?Keywords=khara

… and discussed the government’s nervousness on such issues as pension fund reform in a feature article here:

http://www.emergingmarkets.org/Article/2690747/Europe/UKRAINE-Tough-love.html

The Ukrainian workers’ movement, like that in Russia, has largely been quiescent since the mid-1990s. The burden of decades of dictatorship, the difficulties of throwing off the old union structures, the effects of industry being trashed … all have taken their toll.

But there’s no reason to think the movement will be quiescent for ever.

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